Leistadt is a district of the town of Bad Dürkheim, Germany. It is situated at the confluence of the Palatinate Forest and the Rhine plain, creating a captivating blend of natural beauty. The region surrounding Bad Dürkheim boasts a wealth of historical treasures, some of which trace their roots back over 3000 years, and as I think even further.
A very special highlight in this regard is the historical hiking trail, which stretches for several kilometers on a hill above Leistadt and leads past various incredible landmarks.
Let’s go on a journey, where we will encounter sights that defy easy explanation. The official interpretations, if they exist, sometimes fall short of capturing the true essence of what lies before us. However, join me and make up your own mind..
The first stop is at the so-called Laura’s Hut (German: Laura-Hütte). This is a hunting and shelter hut built in 1845 in the style of a Roman temple, from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Rhine plain. The owner at that time, Wilhelm Retzer, a district judge from the nearby town of Freinsheim, dedicated it to his beloved wife, Laura.
You may wonder why there is a Roman temple-like building up here. Is it merely a coincidence, or something more? Interestingly, right in front of the hut, there sits a peculiarly shaped boulder known as the Love Bench. Indeed, it is a stone-carved bench that offers a panoramic view of the neighboring villages and the Rhine plain. The creator and purpose of this enigmatic structure remain unknown. Personally, I believe it predates the existence of the hut, standing as a silent testament to times long gone.
Just a short distance from the hut, higher up on the mountainside, lies an interesting assemblage of sizable stone blocks, haphazardly strewn about. It seems as though there may have been a previous arrangement or structure in this location that was forcefully destroyed.
Repeatedly, in comparable locations, you may encounter fragmented rock formations, within which there are sometimes a noteworthy number of nearly perfect symmetrical stone blocks. Other boulders exhibit significant signs of erosion and rugged destruction, leaving their original form to be merely conjectured. The areas are often narrowly defined, and as soon as you move beyond this zone, the complete absence of such boulders becomes immediately apparent.
I always wonder how old these stones are and if, or how nature over and over creates an accumulation of symmetries in such a small space. Geologists, on the other hand, will probably say it’s all natural, respectively because of mineral grid structures, frost, and so on.
Is it possible that Laura’s Hut was deliberately constructed in this location as an ancient temple to continue honoring what has always been intrinsic to this place? Perhaps this site was once a revered sanctuary, and the architect of the Laura hut was aware of its significance…
The canapé, often referred to as a “seat-like” structure, is a remarkable formation hewn from solid rock. Adjacent to it stands an equally impressive boulder into which a staircase has been artfully carved.
According to official interpretations, this site served as a hermitage during the 14th to 16th centuries, providing shelter to its inhabitants. It is highly implausible that this ensemble was specifically created for this purpose during that era.
Furthermore, these seemingly useless stairs can be observed repeatedly at verified prehistoric ceremonial sites across the globe. Therefore, it is more than obvious that this is exactly what this place once used to be.
The perplexity lies in whether there is a lack of effort in exploration, an issue of incompetence, or a deliberate intention at play
Soup Bowl and Other Marker Stones
The hiking trail up here on the mountain follows a historical border that dates back to the Middle Ages. Many old boundary and marker stones along the path testify to this. Among them, two stand out in particular, including a unique stone known as the Soup Bowl (German: Suppenschüssel).
This stone, featuring a square cavity at its top, served as a boundary marker and meeting spot for socializing and drinking after boundary inspections from the 12th to the 18th centuries. It reminds me more of a kind of bowl stone, that can be found at ancient places of worship. Only the square shape differs from the normally round depressions. Nevertheless, I have the feeling that it has been standing up there for a very, very long time and once served ritual purposes.
Not far away sits the Leiningen Boundary Stone, dating back to 1595 and associated with the counts of Leiningen-Hardenburg. Although lacking prehistoric origins, it still captivates the eye with its brilliantly painted coat of arms in a striking shade of blue.
The Krummholzer Stuhl, our next destination, is officially an ancient Roman quarry dating back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Allegedly, this site was responsible for producing stone coffins and stones for the city walls of the town of Worms, among other things.
However, when examining the modest size of this ‘quarry’, doubts start to creep in.
Furthermore, its remote location high up on the mountain raises questions. It would have been much more practical and cost-effective to conduct quarrying operations closer to the villages, where accessibility and resources would have been more favorable.
The only information available about this location is that it features a bench carved into the rock plateau. This fact is quite evident.
Its naming suggests that this place has always been scary to people, or was supposed to be scary to them. Nevertheless, the view from here overlooking the Rhine plain is truly magnificent.
Several sizable boulders dispersed throughout the vicinity are interesting.
One of the most remarkable features that captivates me is the Devil’s Wall (German: Teufelsmauer). Here, too, the naming speaks volumes. It is said to be a naturally occurring sandstone rock reef that extends along the mountainside.
You could easily be led to believe that you are encountering ancient megalithic remnants from a forgotten “Old World,” nearly eradicated by some catastrophic event in the distant past.
If you wish to delve deeper into this concept, it is possible to speculate that the numerous other monuments (cult places?) found on this mountain were erected – maybe by the Celts two to three thousand years ago – to venerate the ancient remnants of a civilization that predates even them by thousands of years.
Ancient Cart Ruts
On the mountain, there are two distinct locations where noticeable grooves can be found on the path. These grooves are believed to be remnants of Roman cart ruts.
It appears that there was once a well-traveled road that ran along this ridge, constructed with stone slabs.
Devil’s Wall Extended
If you deviate from the historic hiking trail at the end of the Devil’s Wall towards the southwest, and proceed for a few hundred meters while making two turns, you will encounter something that will once again leave you nearly speechless.
The location is not easily visible, as it is situated below the path on a densely overgrown slope, and the area is segregated by a fence from the upper section. However, there are points of entry available. Once again, there are substantial stone blocks scattered about, which are just as impressive as those on the real Devil’s Wall. Quite at the beginning of this incline sits, between these megaliths, a kind of terrace construction or, if you will, a slope pyramid.
For lack of any information, I call this place simply The Devil’s Wall Extended.
Love Letter Box
Backtracking along the trail and heading northeast just before reaching the original Devil’s Wall, you will stumble upon a unique spot known as the Love Letter Box (German: Liebesbriefkasten).
This megalith was artificially worked, featuring a peculiar slit on one side. According to the related legend, it is believed that an unmarried woman who places a leaf inside will soon find a suitable husband.
The boulder likely originates from a higher point on the slope, where the Devil’s Wall is located.
Our final destination before descending the mountain is the renowned Portemonnaie. This unique split boulder, adorned with an abundance of small stones nestled within, bears a striking resemblance to a wallet.
Upon examining the legend, a clear revelation emerges. It proclaims that those who place a stone within shall attain wealth beyond measure. Evidently, numerous hikers were enticed by this enchanting prospect, yearning to contribute their magical offerings.
Alas, it appeared that not a solitary pebble remained for me in the vicinity. Ill fortune had befallen me…
The Leistadt historical trail offers an enchanting journey into the past. Behind every corner lies a new mystery waiting to be discovered.
The traces of the past arouse curiosity and entice you to delve deeper and explore past eras. Whether you are attracted by the thrill of adventure, the secrets of ancient times or the love of nature, this trail promises a great experience full of history and legend.